RECAP: Canada Reads, Day 4

Replay the finale:

Q&A:

We have a new Canadian Reads champion! You can watch the final show in the video player above. Scroll down to read the voting breakdown and learn which book has won the competition.

Finale recap:

Three days of intense, emotional and thoughtful debates lead to Thursday's big finale. Lawrence Hill's refugee drama The Illegal, defended by Olympic star Clara Hughes, was pitted against The Hero's Walk, a gripping family narrative by Anita Rau Badami, and defended by actor/filmmaker Vinay Virmani.

The final questions focused on which characters the panellists thought were most courageous and which moments of the remaining books stood out for them. Each panellist also weighed in on what they loved most about each book, with many praising the pacing and imagination of The Illegal and the masterful, beautiful writing of The Hero's Walk.

But, there can only be one Canada Reads champion. And following the final statements by Hughes and Virmani, the panel submitted their votes. It was a dramatic showdown:

  • Vinay Virmani voted to eliminate The Illegal
  • Clara Hughes voted to eliminate The Hero's Walk
  • Farah Mohamed voted to eliminate The Illegal
  • Bruce Poon Tip voted to eliminate The Hero's Walk

This meant that Adam Copeland had the deciding vote. Copeland revealed that he voted to eliminate The Hero's Walk.

The Illegal by Lawrence Hill has won Canada Reads 2016.

"I am so surprised and happy and relieved," said an emotional Hughes after the announcement. "I just want to say that [Canada Reads is] about competition, but it's also about respect... I'm really glad we had a good fight."

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The show ended with another surprise for Hughes, as Hill, who also won Canada Reads in 2009 for The Book of Negroes, appeared on the set to congratulate her and the other panellists. He is now the first author to win Canada Reads twice, an accomplishment he described as "a great honour [and] humbling."

You can join Hill and Hughes during a live Facebook chat at 7 p.m. ET, co-presented by CBC Books and Chapters Indigo, tonight to talk more about the book and their experiences with Canada Reads 2016.

In a touching moment earlier in the show, Bruce Poon Tip announced that he would be donating 10,000 copies of Birdie by Tracey Lindberg to Canadian high schools. You can learn more about his new initiative here.

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